Over the past few months, teachers in the Detroit Public Schools (DPS) have had to resort to “sick outs” to get attention to the egregious working and teaching conditions they and their students are being forced to contend with. From black mold, rats, and cockroaches to warped gym floors and, this past week, the threat that they would not be paid for their work because the district is out of money, none of these issues would have been made public without them taking these measures. By law, teachers in Michigan are not allowed to go on strike so sick outs have been their only recourse.…Read more ›
I received a press release the other day from the Michigan State AFL-CIO, the umbrella federation for U.S. and Michigan unions. The group is made up of 56 unions representing 12.5 million working men and women. The headline made me smile and sent a glimmer of sunshine in what has been some very dark days for people of conscience and passion in Michigan.
The headline read simply: New Data: Michigan Union Membership Increased in 2015: Michigan unions added 36,000 members last year
Happily, Michigan is not alone in its increase in membership. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 24 states saw an increase in union membership, and although there is a great deal of room for growth, after too many years of union membership decreased, mostly because of a horrid economy and bad Republican economic policy, wages in union states, as have been reported for many decades now, are increasing for union households and furthermore in non-union households they are making about 21% less than Union households.…Read more ›
The future of public sector unions, and perhaps organized labor, lies firmly in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court
2015 was by many accounts a good year for our Liberal agenda as it related to decisions made by the U.S. Supreme Court. The affirmation of the Affordable Care Act and the victory of marriage equality for all were important and historical steps in reality and it was, I should add, a reflection of what many of us, no matter your political will, agreed were the right decisions to make. But, as many of us are fully aware, just because a majority agrees with a point of view does not guarantee a victory in the courts.
Today the United State Supreme Court will begin to hear oral arguments on a landmark case that originated in Detroit which could overturn a decision that has been upheld for 39 years.…Read more ›
I recently wrote about Michigan teacher Mary Davenport, a woman who had received hundreds of thousands of dollars in support from her union, the Michigan Education Association (MEA), only to turn around and claim they “weren’t there when she needed them.” She was duped into being the poster child for the campaign by the corporate front group Mackinac Center to encourage teachers to leave their union.
In the letter Davenport signed that was sent to thousands of Michigan teachers using their taxpayer-funded work email addresses, Davenport railed against what Mackinac Center calls “pension spiking” by MEA president Steve Cook whose pension will be based on his MEA salary.…Read more ›
As I mentioned in my last post, I have been traveling in China for work for the past two weeks. I’m now back in Michigan and have finally recovered from my jet lag and the 12-hour time difference. I appreciate your patience during my absence. Regular posting will now resume : )
Back in 2011, shortly after Republicans took control of our state government, one of the first things they did was to enact a series of laws designed to diminish the ability of teachers to bargain collectively for fair wages, benefits, and working conditions. The new laws created local boards that would govern teacher discipline, teacher evaluations, teacher tenure and strengthened a prohibition on strikes to further harm unions that encourage them.…Read more ›
Unions are about freedom or: This is why the conservatives have been trying to kill America’s labor movement
“The future of labor is the future of America,” labor leader John Lewis said, during the Great Depression.
And for a long time, you had to squint to see that future because it’s so bright. America capitalized on its enormous advantages after World War II with unprecedented growth that was — thanks to the labor movement — widely shared.
However, workers wages peaked in the 1970s and since then, gains have been widely shared by the richest .01 percent.
Some have argued that this is a mystic inevitability that is in no way connected to corporate America focusing its enormous power and wealth on an agenda of cutting taxes for the rich and deregulating industry.…Read more ›
Do you ever feel like you never seem to be able to get ahead? That you work your whole life but, at the end of the month, the end of the year, you aren’t any further ahead than you were last month or last year?
This one chart goes a long way toward explaining exactly why that is:
As the chart shows, since the attacks on unions began back in the 50s and 60s and union membership began to drop, the share of income enjoyed by the middle 60 percent of families began to drop as well. In fact, the two correlate frighteningly well.…Read more ›
President Obama smacks down Republican attempt to block new NLRB rule making it easier for workers to unionize
Last December, the National Labor Relations Board issued a new rule to “modernize and streamline the process” of forming a union.
The new rule:
- Provides for electronic filing and transmission of election petitions and other documents;
- Ensures that employees, employers and unions receive timely information they need to understand and participate in the representation case process;
- Eliminates or reduces unnecessary litigation, duplication and delay;
- Adopts best practices and uniform procedures across regions;
- Requires that additional contact information (personal telephone numbers and email addresses) be included in voter lists, to the extent that information is available to the employer, in order to enhance a fair and free exchange of ideas by permitting other parties to the election to communicate with voters about the election using modern technology; and
- Allows parties to consolidate all election-related appeals to the Board into a single appeals process.
Wisconsin poised to become next Right to Work state, uses “Freedom to Work” meme beta tested in Michigan
With their state Senate debating so-called “Right to Work” legislation this week and their Assembly expected to take it up next week, Wisconsin is poised to become the latest Republican-controlled state to enact the anti-union law. In the weeks and months leading up to Michigan’s passage of right to work legislation, anti-union forces rebranded it as “Freedom to Work”. The term “Freedom to Work” is even used on our state government website.
As it turns out, as in so many other ways, Michigan was the testing ground for new corporatist and conservative efforts. The group Wisconsin Right to Work now has FreedomToWorkWI.com as the URL of its website.…Read more ›
As the Michigan Democratic Party convenes tomorrow stop blaming Lon Johnson for Democrat’s problems and blame who is really at fault: YOU!
Update: The program I mention toward the end of this story was called “The Win Machine” and it was delayed for use but eventually went up and was successfully used by 2500 people, a significant number. Also, and this did deserve a mention earlier today, but the miabsetee.com app/site was VERY successful and helped both many Democrats and Republicans register to vote. Lon and his leadership team deserve lots of kudos for that piece of brilliance.That clarification was important to include.
Tomorrow Democrats from across the state will convene in downtown Detroit for their semi-annual convention. The spring convention will hold no surprises tomorrow.…Read more ›
When thinking about what Governor Rick Snyder said in the SOTS, actions speak MUCH louder than words
Ray Holman is the Legislative Liaison for UAW Local 6000 and, for those of you not familiar with this Local, they represent over 22,000 state of Michigan workers that cut a wide path. Their membership, according to their website, “represents workers in every Department in State of Michigan government. We are the nurses, teachers, doctors, probation officers, social workers and secretaries. We issue your driver license, answer your 911 calls, take care of Michigan’s elderly and provide assistance to Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens.”
Clearly, last night when Michigan Governor Rick Snyder delivered his long-winded, meandering State of the State address, the membership of UAW Local 6000 had reason to listen attentively.…Read more ›